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October 24, The Day For Honoring Dogs

I’m sitting in the living room writing. Tensing arrived carrying his day pack. He turned off the small night lights and greeted me before going into the kitchen to make tea and coffee.

After yoga there was a brief ceremony to honor the dogs. The second day is called ‘Kukur tihar’, dogs day. A dog plays many roles in our society. We have dogs in our houses as guardian of the house. As the legend also says that there is a dog at yama’s gate guarding the gate to the underworld. The dog is also the steed of the fearful Bhairab, the god of destruction. So on this day a big red tika is put on a dog’s forehead and a beautiful garland around the neck. After worshiping the dog, it is given very delicious meal. This day the saying ‘every dog has his day’ comes true; for even a stray dog is looked upon with respect. We pray to the dog to guard our house as he guards the gate of the underworld and to divert destruction away from our homes. On this day you can see dogs running around with garlands on their neck.

According to another legend, a man was going to be killed by a god. His dog intervened, saying that he should be killed instead of his owner. Since then, one day of the Laxmi festival, is dedicated to honoring the dogs for their loyalty. The ritual consists of many steps. It includes marking the dogs with paint, putting a garland of marigolds around their necks, incense, and at the end milk and cookies. I was surprised at how quietly the 3 dogs sat during the ritual. It seemed that they understood.

We all enjoyed our morning yoga class taught by Rupesh Joshi. Rupesh trained for 3 months in Tirvandhanpur, India. He explained that this is where one of the oldest Hatha Yoga training centers is. We all enjoyed his approach and skill is as teacher. After class, we all sat around the table talking while we enjoyed scrambled eggs, cereal, yogurt and toast.

Carolyn, Michelle and I were accompanied by Neeru (our facilitator and translator) and Steve to the Shanti Health Clinic to volunteer for a few hours. This is a self-sustaining clinic to help people and their families who have suffered with leprosy. Before we started, we took a tour. They have buildings to house families, an organic garden, school, work room for weaving and sewing, facility to make a kind of brick from recycled newspaper and sawdust to sell in Kathmandu, and a clinic.

This is the day that the doctor was visiting. Carolyn showed me how to clean and dress wounds that result from limb deformation. Carolyn worked with the Doctor who is Nepalese and was trained in Pakistan. We were warmly welcomed. Everyone seemed to enjoy interacting with us and having us there. So much is communicated non-verbally!I am continually touched by the light in their eyes and their smiles. Unfortunately, we I try to take a picture of someone smiling, they usually stop for the photo.

A beautiful woman I worked on introduced me to her 2 boys, who played happily near by with marbles. One of the men cleaning wounds, also had leprosy. He explained that he has dedicated his life to serving people in the hills. He finds people who are too ashamed to come get treatment. He works tirelessly to encourage them to come to the clinic for help. Before we left, we were invited to have tea made with cardamon and basil to thank us for our time. As Neeru and I walked back to the jeep, she told me she was inspired by the group I brought to Nepal and what we are interested in doing. She told me how much she loves spending time with us. We love having her with us. She did such a good job facilitating and translating for us.

When we arrived back at Shiva Puri, we had a delicious lunch of potato curry, greens, tomato salad. We all had time to take a shower, read and relax in the cottage, before having dinner with the other guests. Tomorrow, we’ll be begin our work in Dadagaun Village.

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